The watchdog Goldwater Institute has discovered that the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) is controlling much of the teaching within Arizona’s K-12 public schools, which includes Critical Race Theory (CRT). Schools are locked into the agenda, because if they try to opt-out, the ASBA will accuse them of copyright infringement for using their own previously adopted policies or replicating those of other public bodies.
According to a new report the Goldwater Institute put out about the problem, the ASBA uses the messaging of “equity,” asserting that it is not CRT. But “retreating to the less revolutionary sounding term ‘equity’ reflects a distinction without a difference.” The purpose is still the same, “replacing the principle of legal equality with practices and government mandates forcing people to treat their fellow Americans differently based on race — inflicting racist policies on people today in order to balance out the racism of centuries past.”
There is plenty of evidence the ASBA promotes CRT. A virtual webinar in April 2021, The Equity Event, featured a keynote address by Calvin Terrell, founder and director of the Social Centric Institute. He called on educators to “interrupt” the system of “white dominance,” declaring that “achievement is arbitrary,” and that “our presidents, Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson were rapist, racist men” who happened to have “some good ideas, but they were hypocrites.”
The ASBA’s newsletter AZEDNEWS celebrated The 1619 Project as “culturally relevant” and highlighted the efforts of two activists who “are on a mission to bring the 1619 Project to every public school in Arizona.”
When the Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC) School District, located in Central Phoenix, looked into possibly withdrawing from the ASBA, they discovered “that ‘voluntary’ membership is anything but.” The school board was told that the roughly $13,000 in annual dues the district pays to ASBA goes to use the district’s own publicly adopted policies — which ASBA owns. Any district that surrenders its membership in the ASBA could be sued for copyright violation unless that district replaces its publicly adopted suite of rules and policies with new ones.
The Goldwater Institute examined various school districts’ publicly adopted policy manuals and observed how they were all replicated from the same ASBA model. The report concluded, “The ASBA appears to believe that the freedom of publicly elected school boards to establish and maintain public policies for their own self-government is subject to the permission and pleasure of a private organization.”
Unable to easily leave the ASBA, school districts don’t truly have local control. The ASBA takes much of its materials from the National School Boards Association (NSBA), of which it is an affiliate. The NSBA is a strong advocate of CRT. One of the central tenets of CRT, that American institutions are systemically racist and must be dismantled, is found in the NSBA’s equity initiative, “Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education.”
The Goldwater Institute recommends that school boards actively consider forming new cooperative agreements to share legal and policy-related services that are not bundled with unwanted political activism.
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